PhD Rural Sociology and International Agriculture and Development, Penn State
MS Rural Sociology, Penn State
BA International Studies, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Kristal works with CLLC programs and partners to bring a social science perspective to conservation planning and implementation. Her training as a rural sociologist, as well as more recent experience as a researcher at a data-driven synthesis center focused on socio-environmental systems, gives her an interdisciplinary perspective on conservation and environmental challenges.
Kristal has worked in the domestic US and internationally with many different types of organizations focused on agricultural development, natural resource management and rural livelihood strategies in the context of environmental change. Her interest in how people relate to their natural environment, and in turn impact that environment, began as an Agroforestry Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. Her dissertation work with the CGIAR Consortium explored the social dimensions of seed systems in Sahelian West Africa, and the values that farmers associate with the types of seeds they plant and the types of exchanges they use to access seeds. Prior to coming to CLLC, Kristal worked as a research scientist at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland. There she developed programs that build capacity for and awareness of what kinds of information and support teams of researchers and practitioners need to utilize and integrate the many types of data needed to understand and address complex challenges that have both human and environmental dimensions. Kristal uses multiple methods, including statistical modeling, qualitative analysis and spatial representation, to explore the social dimensions of environmental challenges.
Kristal has a PhD in rural sociology, and international agriculture and development, from the Pennsylvania State University. She completed a postdoc on a USAID project focused on agricultural and environmental workforce development. In addition to her primary appointments, she also ongoing working relationships with Oxfam America, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and several university collaborators, with whom she conducts evaluation and background research on the social dimensions of their programs.